Months before the bride takes pheras with her groom, she has established a committed relationship with someone else – her personal shopper. This is a relationship she regards with equal sanctity as her marital union, because she and her shopper have come to understand each other’s needs and adjusted to each other’s rhythm. The goal of this alliance is clear: to find the perfect lehenga.
This is a trend picking up in Delhi and Mumbai, where brides overwhelmed by the scale and drama of the Big Fat Indian Wedding have decided they need help. Enter experts who are stylists, designers and image consultants all rolled into one. They’ll help brides and bridal parties create the look for different wedding functions, shop for outfits for the honeymoon, and assemble a complete trousseau for months of newlywed bliss.
"Some brides are confused or clueless about how to put so many outfits together," says Shazia Aggarwal, 29, a trousseau shopper and an image consultant in Mumbai. "As a bride, you also have so much going on, it is difficult to find time for shopping alone. That’s where I step in." Aggarwal has put together wedding outfits and trousseaus for five brides over the past year.
Each project takes three to four months, comes with varying briefs and caters to budgets ranging from a few lakhs to a crore. The amount covers bridal outfits and the trousseau – Indian wear, Western gowns, casual outfits, fashion jewellery, lingerie, shoes, make-up and everything in between.
Stylists usually charge a percentage of the budget as their fees. In exchange, they not only take on the headache of browsing, they ensure that the bride wears more than generic red and gold.
"You don’t want the bride to look ordinary on her special day," says Nisha Kundnani, 32, a celebrity, editorial and commercial stylist, and founder of Mumbai’s wedding wardrobe consultancy, Bridélan. "I customise a look for each bride: how to drape the sari, wear the dupatta, style the hair and pick the make-up, accessories and jewellery for her face and body shape."
Shop, design, style
Colour swatches, reference images, online research, embroidery choices and appointments for bridal showings are crucial when shortlisting stores and budgeting. So a lot of wedding shoppers profile clients.
Mehak Sagar, 27, a blogger and founder of the Delhi bridal shopping consultancy, Bridesbypb.com, has a questionnaire with images of outfits to understand the bride’s taste and personality: “Does she like bling, does she like traditional?” She assists Indians and NRIs, and includes stores across budgets, from Greater Kailash and Hauz Khas Village to Shahpur Jat – the new hub for quirky trousseau finds.
Bollywood costume designer Urvashi Shah, 30, styled her first groom this June, creating several looks and styling his uncles and brothers too. She recommends getting an outfit stitched if your budget is tight. “I chose the colour palette, bought fabric and added personalised touches by making shoes in the same fabric and adding embroidery to the sherwani and the dupatta,” she explains.
The film styling and designing backgrounds of personal shoppers helps them understand just how a garment should fit. “At designer stores, the merchandiser is clueless about fittings. [But a] personal shopper can suggest flattering styles and even guide you during alterations – a mighty task with bridal wear,” says Nidhi Bansal, 26, designer and personal shopper.
She often recommends lesser-known, out-of-home fashion designers and suggests that brides stitch lehengas from their mothers’ old saris for smaller functions. “It adds a sweet touch to a wedding and is the perfect way to personalise and add vintage glamour to the big day,” she says.
What to keep in mind while shopping for your wedding
Nidhi Bansal, 26
Shazia Aggarwal, 29
Urvashi Shah, 30
Mehak Sagar, 27
From HT Brunch, November 16
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